Boston–I mentioned in the Game 5 postgame blog that it had been so long since Al Horford played center for the Hawks it was kind of astonishing to see the difference. I’m sure the Celtics must feel the same.
Fired up the Synergy Sports Technology machine to look at Atlanta’s offensive possessions in Game 5. There was, as expected, lots of visual evidence that the threat of Horford (and Horford himself) helped lead to some good scoring opportunities for the Hawks:
Before Al returned to this series, the Hawks didn’t have a center the Celtics had to worry much about on the roll, on the pop or in the post. Now there is one center they have to worry about for all of those play types. As Jeff Teague put it after Game 5: “He’s a real athletic guy, athletic roller. And his presence to be able to pick-and-pop and he can switch it up and roll, that’s big.”
Horford played 41 minutes and the Hawks had by far their most efficient scoring game of the series. Among the starters, Horford’s 0.9 points per possession were third to Marvin (1.25) and Teague. (1.0). Al’s four turnovers were the only blemish on his line.
Now we’ll see how effective Al can be in Game 6 after playing so many minutes in just his second game back. Can he go 40 minutes again?
“I do not know,” Horford said today before shootaround. “That might be a little bit of a stretch. I’ll come out and give a productive run but those guys [the backups] need to be ready.”
But Hoford latter added that if the circumstances dictate it “then I may have to go 40. There is no plan.”
My guess is the Hawks will need him to do it again.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat